Harrison Smith   S/LB   Notre Dame      

TALENT BOARD

 Round 4


STRENGTHS

Harrison has very good size and athletic ability to play more than one position for the team that drafts him.  He shows the ability to cover in short areas and has those long arms that will help him to cover taller receivers in the red zone.  Harrison is smart and doesn't make many mistakes.  He communicates well with his teammates and is not fooled by play action.  He can be used as an in-the-box safety.  Harrison might not have the pure speed you look for in a single free safety, but he seems to make up for that lack of speed with his football intelligence.

 

CONCERNS

The truth is, I think Harrison would be a better weakside linebacker than a safety for the next level.  He would need to add about 20 lbs, but his athleticism fits the linebacker position better than it fits a safety position in the NFL.  When Harrison comes from far off the play to tackle, he doesn't break down, which causes him to tackle high and sloppy.  His cover skills are good if he was a linebacker, but just not quick enough or good enough as a safety.  He is limited to teams that use a two deep zone defense and, with more teams going to four and five receiver sets, this will be a problem for Harrison as a safety. 

 

BOTTOM LINE

When you see Harrison in the box, you see a player with the talent to become a core player and even maybe an impact player for the team that drafts him.  As a safety, his athleticism is good but not outstanding enough to make an impact.  He is one of the better players in this draft who will engage offensive linemen, slip off them and make tackles.  When he is up close to the line, he is a much better tackler.  As a linebacker, he will cause problems for QB's to throw over because of his height and he also has the ability to rush the QB and change directions to make sacks.  As a safety, he is one of many -- nothing special, but does a good solid job when in the right defense that fits his skills.  Draft him and use him as a cover linebacker in nickel-dime situations and give him a few years to bulk up and I believe Harrison can become a starting linebacker, core player and a fan favorite for your team.  Draft him and use him as a safety and I'm not sure he will be any better than average. 

 

 The BS Detector 

 Drew Boylhart  March /12